Education

A big occasion in the history of the race in this city.

I was astonished to realize that this article memorializes the first commencement exercises at the Independent School — here called by its full and official name, the Wilson  Normal and Industrial Institute. As chronicled here and here and here, a coalition of African-American parents and religious and civic leaders founded the Independent School (also known as the Industrial School) in the wake of an assault on a black teacher by the white school superintendent.

I have not been able to identify Judge William Harrison of Chicago, who delivered to the new school’s graduates a remarkably unprogressive message that seemingly flew in the face of the stand for civil rights the community had resolutely made just a year earlier. The Times reporter made no mention of the school’s genesis, preferring to focus at length on Harrison’s message of admiration for the white man’s guidance and fine example.

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Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1919.

  • Judge William Harrison
  • Prof. S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick furnished a building on Vance Street to house the new school.
  • Rev. A.L.E. Weeks — Alfred L.E. Weeks was a member of the Colored Ministerial Union committee appointed to address the community’s concerns to the school board.
  • Joseph S. Jackson — Joseph S. Jackson Jr.
  • Boisy Barnes — Boisey O. Barnes.
  • Lester Mitchell — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Annie Mitchell, 70, her children Sallie, 46, Eddie, 44, Albert, 42, Eva, 36, and Floyd, 34, plus niece Sevreane, 18, and nephew Lester, 15.
  • Willard Crawford — probably, Daniel Willard Crawford who died 16 October 1964 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 January 1900 in Wilson County to Daniel Crawford and Annie Whitted; was never married; and worked as a carpenter. Walter H. Whitted was informant.
  • Addie Davis — Addie Davis Butterfield.
  • Rev. R.N. Perry — Episcopal priest Robert N. Perry was also on the Ministerial Union’s committee.
  • Lillian Wilson — perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: livery stable groom William Wilson, 51; wife Sarah, 48, and daughters Elen, 23, and Lillian, 21, both tobacco factory workers.

The Colored High School on display.

darden

This photograph of Wilson Colored High School, later known as Darden High, was displayed in Philadelphia’s Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition of 1926. It was one of several dozen featured in an exhibit staged by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Division of Negro Education. The caption: Cost of Building $65,000.00 — Total Value Colored School Property $96,250.00 — Total Population of the City 14,000 — Total Colored Population of City 6,650.

From Sesquicentennial International Exposition Photographs, Division of Negro Education, Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina State Archives.

Farm life, school life.

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Wilson Daily Times, 3 December 1936.

In 1936, African-American children at Rocky Branch, Williamson, Kirby’s, New Vester and Calvin’s Level schools — all in the rural southwest quadrant of Wilson County — responded to a survey about education and farm life. To the surprise of the writer of this article, most children indicated that would like to live on a farm (in the future?)

New Negro school opened.

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Wilson Daily Times, 11 December 1936.

When Samuel H. Vick Elementary School opened in December 1936, about 600 children were transferred from the aging and seriously over-crowded Stantonsburg Street School to a brand-new building at 801 North Reid Street. (The older school was soon after renamed Sallie Barbour School and continued to serve children south of Nash or Hines Streets.)

A resolution in honor of John W. Jones.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2005

RATIFIED BILL  

RESOLUTION 2005-47

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 197 

A JOINT RESOLUTION HONORING THE LIFE AND MEMORY OF JOHN WESLEY JONES, FORMER EDUCATOR AND INFLUENTIAL LEADER.

Whereas, John Wesley Jones grew up in the City of Wilson; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones graduated from Charles H. Darden High School in 1941 at the age of 15; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones spent a year helping to construct a new addition to Charles H. Darden High School before attending North Carolina A & T State University; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones’s college education was interrupted by World War II when he was drafted into the United States Navy; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones returned to North Carolina A & T State University after serving in the United States Navy, earning a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1948 and later receiving a masters degree in mathematics; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones was a schoolteacher in Greene and Wilson Counties from 1948 to 1968 and served as an assistant principal and principal in the Wilson County public schools from 1968 to 1988; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones served the education community proudly as a member of State and national organizations, including the North Carolina Teachers Association, Inc., the North Carolina Association of Educators, Inc., and the National Education Association; and

Whereas, after his retirement as a principal, John Wesley Jones continued to be an advocate for education by becoming a member of the Wilson County Board of Education, serving as a member from 1988 to 2004 and as the Chair for one term; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones rendered distinguished service to his community by helping to establish the Charles H. Darden High School Alumni Association, Inc., in 1971, a national, nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to promote the educational, cultural, and social level of the community; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones’s success in establishing the Alumni Association has allowed former students of Charles H. Darden High School, who now live in other parts of the country, to communicate and stay in touch with each other, resulting in an annual reunion held in the City of Wilson and reunions held in other states; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones served as the Alumni Association’s first president and later as executive secretary to the board of directors; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones’s vision to build a community center came true in 1991 when the Charles H. Darden Alumni Center opened, providing a location for a tutorial program and community activities; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones was a member of the National North Carolina A & T State University Alumni Scholarship Committee, which provided four-year scholarships to deserving high school graduates and helped students achieve their dreams of attending college; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones was active in the American Legion Post #17, NAACP, Men’s Civic Club, served as treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Hattie Daniels Day Care Center, and was a charter member and past president of the Beta Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones was a devoted member of the Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, serving on the Board of Trustees, Finance Committee, and as Chair of the Construction Committee for the Education Building; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones died on April 3, 2004; Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:

SECTION 1.  The General Assembly honors the life and memory of John Wesley Jones for the service he rendered to his community, State, and nation.

SECTION 2.  The General Assembly extends its deepest sympathy to the family of John Wesley Jones for the loss of a beloved family member.

SECTION 3.  The Secretary of State shall transmit a certified copy of this resolution to the family of John Wesley Jones.

SECTION 4.  This resolution is effective upon ratification.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 9th day of August, 2005.

From The Trojan (1964), the yearbook of Charles H. Darden High School.

A little paint does not help a situation like that.

Richard A.G. Foster made the most of his brief time as pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church, as chronicled here and here. In the letter to the editor below, he called to task Wilson County Commissioners for failing to heed the pleas of African-American residents for adequate schooling, including serious repairs for the Stantonsburg Street School (also known as Sallie Barbour School).

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Wilson Daily Times, 3 August 1938.

The Schoolyard.

After years of complaints about deteriorating conditions at the Sallie Barbour School, Wilson’s Board of Education finally constructed a new elementary school for African-American children in southeast Wilson. The opening of Elvie Street School left Sallie Barbour School obsolete, and the city made plans to sell off the property.

The first plat shows a survey of the property as it existed in January 1951 — the frame school building (which dated from the 1890s) with its distinctive five-sided porch , a small frame lunch room off to one side, and a brick toilet building in the rear.

The second plat shows, superimposed over an outline of the buildings, the proposed division of the land — known to this day as “The Schoolyard” — into 28 lots.

The Schoolyard today. About 1955, a developer built a row of double-shotgun houses on the Manchester Street side of the property. The Black Creek Road (formerly Stantonsburg Street) side is now home to a small supermarket and a series of apartment buildings.

Plat Book 5, pages 32 and 34, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County courthouse; photo courtesy of Google Maps.